It's amazing to see how a simple pink sphere has turned into one of Nintendo's most versatile gaming mascots. Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
marks the Game Boy Advance's second appearance of Kirby in a leading role and, more importantly, the little guy's first original adventure game on the handheld. Flagship, the team that brought to life the Four Swords
element to the Legend of Zelda
franchise clearly tried to pull off the same magic for the Kirby
franchise, but it doesn't come off as successfully in this side-scrolling platformer. Luckily The Amazing Mirror
doesn't depend solely on this gameplay gimmick, and the rest of the game, while more of the same Kirby
style of platformer, offers a much deeper adventure than the first game on GBA. It's not as immediately satisfying as Nightmare in Dreamland
, but its additional gameplay elements and different level structure definitely makes for a welcome sequel.
The Amazing Mirror
- Single player and cooperative mode
- Link cable support for four players (single and multiple cart)
- Cartridge save (three slots)
lifts its name from this game's plot device where Kirby must travel to the Mirror World in order to stop an "evil presence" after they've disrupted the way the mirrors operate. Meta Knight's already tried his hand at saving this world, but his failure has caused a reflection to slice Kirby into four identical Kirbys of different colors. To put right what went wrong, Kirby and his three clones must work together and defeat the evil that's changed the Mirror World's reflections.
That's the tale in a nutshell. The real gameplay comes from traveling all over the Mirror World through mirror portals. There's a reason why this game's Japanese title translated to something to the effect of "The Mirror Labyrinth;" the game is incredibly maze-like in its level structure and players have to really search high and low for the hidden mirrors that will take them through to the next areas. The challenge isn't so much working from Point A to B as much as it is discovering the Point C, D, and E that's hiding the not-so-obvious portals. And the only way to do that is to utilize Kirby's abilities to his (its?) fullest.
If you're not caught up on everything Kirby, you might not know of his special ability to "copy" powers from inhaled foes. Most enemies can be gulped down, and many of these critters have special attacks that can be activated when sucked down Kirby's gullet. This function, while nothing really new in the realm of videogames, is really what makes a Kirby game "different" since level designers look at these abilities and create specific and hidden platformer puzzles to deepen the gameplay. Kirby's copied abilities range from turning into a heavy rock or a heavy missile, or gives him a fighting chance with some special punching or sword handling abilities. These attacks make getting through the platform layouts a snap, so the game might seem like a pushover early on since the enemies don't seem to put up a fight. It's discovering the hidden pathways that's the real challenge in The Amazing Mirror; this has always been a supplemental feature in Kirby platformers' past, but it's absolutely the game's main focus in the latest GBA design.
The other alteration in the Kirby gameplay is the other three Kirbys wandering around the area. Most of the time the computer AI will them close to the core Pink Kirby to give him a little back-up. If they get separated (which happens a lot), you can simply call them to you using a cellphone. This is a limited element, and your phone is kind of weak in electricity...so it's important to find batteries to keep your phone charged. This multi-Kirby element isn't used as well as it could have been in single player mode, and it seems more random and thrown in most of the time since the computer AI Kirbys just can't seem to cooperate. It's clear that the real charm of multiple Kirbys comes into play when linking up as many as four GBA systems together, since each Kirby is human controlled and can go their separate ways to solve the game's maze much faster than one Kirby can. It's an awesome multiplayer feature if you can score the multiple carts, systems and link cables, but I've a feeling not a whole lot of folks will really take advantage of it.
This is, as mentioned above, Kirby's first original game, but it's his second adventure on the GBA, and the game engine is clearly similar to the one that was utilized in Nightmare in Dreamland. The graphic style, audio and presentation is very close to the first GBA Kirby title, which was already pretty great for a late 2002 release. Though there's nothing overwhelmingly awesome going on in the visual and audio department other than the vivid colors and SNES-like soundtrack, it's still a great looking and sounding game on the GBA.
And what's more, there's a lot more to the game that makes Kirby & the Amazing Mirror a much more extensive gaming experience. The three available minigames are pretty similar in concept to what the developers did in Nightmare in Dreamland, just in a different setting and theme. But the bigger picture is that the single player adventure in Mirror isn't nearly as linear or easy to beat. That may be the game's one major shortcoming, though. It feels "cluttered" since it's extremely difficult to immediately know and understand the next proper route to take. It's definitely an appealing aspect, especially if you look at it from the perspective that it's not your average platform structure anymore. But that doesn't mean it's any less confusing.
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